A few days later Frau Holtzapfel, Rosa's enemy, knocks on the Hubermanns' door. She is as rude as ever, but she asks Liesel to finish reading The Whistler to her, as she liked what she heard in the shelter. Rosa haggles with her for payment (her coffee ration), but agrees. A few days later Liesel goes to Frau Holtzapfel's house next door. Frau Holtzapfel is rude and doesn't want any small talk, just reading. Liesel salutes Hitler as she leaves, knowing Frau Holtzapfel's two sons are fighting in Russia.
Frau Holtzapfel begins to become a more complex character, and her soldier sons are first introduced. Liesel is now able to provide something for her family, small though it is, which alleviates the helplessness she felt when the washing customers quit her services. And, again, Liesel's self-empowerment is associated with words, books, and her control of language.